Dear Trump's America

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I'm not usually one to weigh in on politics. In the past, I've left that to people I believed knew more than I did, or were more eloquent when speaking on the subject. Out of necessity, those days are over. The president-elect does not even know more than I do about politics, nor is he more eloquent on any subject, so all bets are off. The election of Donald Trump has uncovered some seriously ugly truths about our country that we cannot afford to hide from or ignore anymore. I want to believe nothing is going to change for the worst, but based on what he has pledged to do just in his first 100 days in office, that seems like precariously wishful thinking. I'm afraid in Trump's America, I no longer have the luxury of remaining silent.

As the mother of two children in the LGBTQ+ community; a survivor of narcissistic abuse, sexual harassment, assault, and rape; friend to people of color; and tenacious advocate for all human rights, I have a responsibility to defend this country against predators. Including the ones who are elected to office. Even, or perhaps especially, if they are now the leader of the free world.

What went wrong?

I am accountable for what happens in this country. Whether or not my candidate was elected, I still take full responsibility for my part in this outcome and what happens next. In general, I fear progressives were too confident in Hillary Clinton's chances of winning, and too dismissive of Donald Trump due to his gross lack of qualifications and a myriad of other seemingly obvious reasons. This bred complacency in some because the notion that Donald Trump could actually lead our nation seemed so utterly preposterous, to so many people (including the majority of Republicans at first), for so long. Many of us thought logic would eventually prevail when, clearly, logic had no place in this election. It's not surprising Trump's supporters would want to "put us in our place". Everywhere you looked, people were discounting his ability to win, first the Republican nomination, then the presidency, and mocking his supporters for their blind faith in an inept candidate. Then this happened. Shocking? Probably not.

Additionally, I was not as strong of an advocate for my family, our friends, and the voiceless as I could have been. For that I am deeply remorseful. I will never make that mistake again. For months, I have sat by and held my tongue while you, my "friends", people I know, and others have made outrageous comments to support or justify the disgusting words and actions of a genuinely despicable man. I did this out of misguided respect for your right to have an opinion; thus, essentially sacrificing my own right to express mine. I can no longer do that because your opinions are not only offensive, they are downright dangerous. They have ramifications you obviously have not even considered and, if you have, you truly do deserve to be called "deplorable". What is worse, some of you now proudly wear that label like a badge of deliberate dishonor.

If you think those of us who are speaking out against Trump and the results of this election are merely "whining" because we "lost" and you "won", you are vastly oversimplifying the situation, missing the bigger picture in a massive way, and likely projecting the way you would have reacted if Hillary Clinton had won onto us. Besides, more than a fair number of us had already "lost" when Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination. This was about so much more than simply beating the other side.

I'm concerned that some of you do not fully understand the "movement" you signed us all up for, so I would like to shed a little light on it. Throughout American history, anytime there has been great progress, it has always been followed by a regressive, often violent, backlash from the conservative right. This is a result of fear and/or feeling threatened by change. For example, the end of slavery gave rise to Reconstruction, which brought with it the "black codes" that restricted the behavior and labor of former slaves. Beginning in 1867, Radical Reconstruction made way for the newly enfranchised to take part in the government for the first time in American History, and it took the Ku Klux Klan less than a decade to completely dismantle it in a violent backlash that returned white supremacy to the American South. From 1877 until the 1960s, Jim Crow -- which relegated the status of African Americans to that of second class citizen and legitimized racism -- was the law of the land in the South and its bordering states. The right wing backlash against Roe v. Wade has been ongoing for more than 40 years, with people who declare themselves "pro-life" bombing abortion clinics and killing anyone who happens to be in the way, whether they are having or giving an abortion or not. Most recently, there have been those who have had the audacity to claim the title "freedom fighter" by refusing to recognize the rights of other people as bestowed upon them by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. (Let that one sink in.) The hypocrisy is stunning.

Make no mistake, this is the side of history you chose to be on when you cast your vote for Donald Trump. Do not become angry because you just outed yourself as racist, bigoted, misogynistic, foolish, ignorant, arrogant, uneducated, or some combination of these. You do not get to pretend you did not intentionally back the same candidate who was also publicly backed by people who are affiliated with multiple hate groups, including the KKK. If you're so proud of your vote and your right to cast it, you need to own all of the implications that go along with it. Do not ask rational people not to "lump" you in with "those kinds of people". You did that to yourself. When you voted for Donald Trump, it was also a vote for white supremacy, the KKK, xenophobia, blind nationalism, rape culture, and plenty of other deplorable things. Own it.

To those who feel like I do, do not lose hope.

If you feel like you're not the only one wandering around in a fog, wondering how this could possibly have happened, it's because you're not. Keep reminding yourself that more of us voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. The electoral college elected Trump, the people of the United States did not. Though it was only a slight majority, the popular vote still went to Hillary Clinton, and that's an important distinction to make. Hatred, bigotry, misogyny, hypocrisy, and ignorance are still in the minority.

This is only temporary. Together, we will survive the next four years. It will probably be a wild ride at times, but we will come out stronger. Continue to be the change you want to see, as no one can take that away from you. Stand up to injustice whenever you can, and never let anyone bully you into silence, no matter how much they try.

Do not stoop to their level.

Violence always begets more violence. It may be tempting, and even feel like the only way to effect change at times, but I foresee truly disastrous results for anyone who engages in violent protest in Trump's America. We are not in entirely uncharted territory, and I can imagine Trump employing Gestapo-like tactics to quell his detractors. You need only reflect on his own words and alignments to know that he encourages violent opposition against anyone who even speaks truth to his power. I can't imagine what he would approve of doing to anyone who turns to violence and rioting to get their point across.

Take heart.

Progress can never be stopped, only slowed down. The majority of Americans are not on board with this. You can't gaslight more than 60 million people into sitting down and shutting up. We are far from alone, and we will not be silenced. Hillary Clinton may have lost the election, but she won the popular vote. We cannot allow those who fear progress to cause us to feel isolated from one another, as it only emboldens them to more effectively quiet our voices. We must stand up to inequality, injustice, and oppression wherever and whenever we see it. We must also demonstrate kindness, even to those we do not agree with, as it is what is right. Four years will come and go, but this country will remain. What is left of it at the end of Trump's presidency is up to all of us, not just the ones who voted for him. The future is still ours to shape.

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